Although it may seem insignificant in the greater scheme of things, choosing to get drunk in public is always a bad idea. Once you are drunk, you may not be in control of your actions or speech, and you could be arrested for disorderly intoxication. This is a distinct crime in Florida, different from disorderly conduct or breach of the peace. A disorderly intoxication charge is highly defensible if you have a dedicated West Palm Beach attorney on your side. Since it is a crime that goes on your record, not just an infraction for which you merely get a ticket, you should not risk defending yourself.Consequences of Getting Drunk in Public for Florida Residents
Disorderly intoxication happens when a person is intoxicated and endangers others or their property. It also may happen when a person is intoxicated or drinking alcohol in a public place and causes a public disturbance. "Intoxication" under this statute means the defendant was affected so significantly that he or she lost the ability to control his or her body or mind. The person must have been drunk, not just under the influence of liquor, wine, or beer. An admission to a law enforcement officer that you drank a couple of beers may not be enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were actually drunk, but it can work against you. It is best to consult an attorney before making such an admission.
Another key element of disorderly intoxication is that it must happen within a “public place.” What is a public place? It is wherever the general public is permitted to be, such as a public park, a shopping mall, or a train. The prosecution must show not only that your drunkenness was public, but also that you posed a threat to public safety. In contrast, you will not be convicted for standing drunk on your own front lawn while getting the mail.
If convicted of disorderly intoxication, you may be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail and hit with a $500 fine. This may not sound especially significant, but it can affect your ability to keep your job. This would result in a permanent criminal record that may impact any future criminal charges, housing or employment opportunities, and your reputation.
Fortunately, there are many defenses to disorderly intoxication that an experienced criminal defense attorney can use to help you. For example, I might argue that you did not endanger the public. It is also possible to attack the prosecution's evidence regarding the alleged disturbance, and also show that the prosecution is unable to prove drunkenness. Depending on your situation, I might be able to argue that you were involuntarily brought into a public place. Sometimes the conduct for which the police arrest defendants consists of statements or other expressive behavior that falls within a category of protected speech under the First Amendment. Other times, there are police procedural errors that make it possible to negotiate a dismissal.Consult a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
I am an experienced public intoxication attorney serving Palm Beach Gardens who uses 30 years of experience, five of which were spent in the prosecutor's office, to fight for your rights. You can consult with me at either of my two offices. One is located in Palm Beach Gardens, near I-95 and PGA Boulevard. The other is located in West Palm Beach. Schedule a free initial consultation by calling 561-533-1221 or contact me through my online form. My office accepts credit cards.